In a recently published research article by Professors Joel Bothello (Professor in Management at John Molson School of Business) and Dean of University of Ottawa, Professor Stéphane Brutus, the authors speak about the importance of case competitions, an essential experiential learning activitiy in business schools.
Innovatank, founded in 2017 was created by groups of students, faculty members, and industry professionals who found a solution to the improvements suggested in this article. We appreciate the recognition that Innovatank offers solutions pin-pointed by researchers in business schools.
- Our 360 Feedback Feature allows all stakeholders to provide continuous feedback
- Our Gamification aspect of Experience points encourages the process rather than the win
- Our Technology allows Inclusion and democratization of case competitions, available to all
We are very proud to be used in multiple classrooms across the country as a pedagogical layer with clear learning goals and outcomes through the case method and process.
Professor Bothello and Dean Brutus suggest the following improvements:
- Democratizing of participation
- Professionalization of the practice
- Re-Prioritization of process and pedagogy
Democratizing of participation
Applied to case competitions, this trickle-down logic implies that the benefits of the
activity can be improved if the exercise is opened to a wider group of participants.
Bothner et al. (2011) use the term1 as a conceptual counterpoint, proposing that social welfare of a group – in our context, the entire student body – can be best improved by investing in the performance of non-elite participants. We argue that resources should be expended on involving students of all levels in the case competition exercise.
A movement to expand the experience of case competition is already emerging in business schools. Wilfred Laurier University, that has structured its capstone course around a case competition format.
Despite their popularity, case competitions often feature impromptu and ad-hoc organization, with little in the way of standardized practices across events and no governing structure to oversee the quality of competitions.
Re-Prioritize Process and Pedagogy
For instance, if the school has an educational mission that
focuses on student development, then this implies selecting those students that have the most
capacity to improve, rather than the most elite students who have the highest chance of winning.
This principle comes into direct contradiction with the first proposition of Kolb’s theory of experiential learning, i.e., that “learning is best conceived of as a process, not in terms of outcomes” (Kolb & Kolb, 2005).
Addressing this issue therefore entails reinforcing the idea that learning occurs through a dynamic process of testing concepts through concrete applications and using feedback from these experiences to refine abstract conceptualization (Kolb & Kolb, 2005; Kolb, 1984).
For case competitions, we consider that this can be practically implemented in three stages: before, during, and after the event. The first involves organizing case competitions with the same
expectation as other pedagogical tools (Ertz, 2016). In line with AACSB accreditation standards,
this implies that case competition participation should be linked with specific learning goals and appropriate Assurance of Learning (AoL) systems (AACSB, 2019).
Second, learning is facilitated by valid and frequent feedback loops during the event itself.
Participants typically receive superficial and coarse feedback from judges; at best, they are
provided with a summary of evaluations, but this feedback oftentimestakes the form of a numerical grade or simple ranking based upon a handful of arbitrary dimensions. We thus urge case competition organizers to introduce more interactive feedback mechanisms that would maximize students’ learning.
Third, borrowing from Kolb and Kolb (2005) we highlight the value of a formal and
structured debrief for student teams. This can occur, for instance, through the recording of
presentations and Q&A sessions that allows evaluators to pinpoint areas of improvement (Barry, 2012). A meta-analysis on team debriefs reports that, on average, the practice enhances team effectiveness by over 20% (Tannenbaum & Cerasoli, 2013).
Areas of Future Research
We can also examine those few instances of case competitions that encourage more
inclusion. For example, when we look at the handful of business schools that incorporate case
competitions in the curriculum (Lebrón, Brannon, Sanford, & Ellison. 2020) (…)